Lavacourt Under Snow, Edouard Monet 1878-81 ©The National Gallery, London.
Inventing Impressionism Paul Durand- Ruel and the Modern Art Market is the full name of this exhibition now on display through May 31st at The National Gallery in London. The title of this show expresses the exact motivation behind this exhibition. The viewer looks at impressionism through the eyes of Paul Duran - Ruel; art dealer, collector, curator, friend and champion to this particular group of artists and their impressionist movement of art.
The instant I walked into the exhibition I found it hard to navigate around the sea of people. They all seemed to be standing still looking down at their guide books to help them go through the show (and always planting themselves right in front of a painting I might add). I took note of this phenomenon and immediately put my guide book away, only pulling it out when I had a question about a painting. After all, I did not want to walk out of the show and find I spent most of my time reading about the art instead of viewing the actual art. As the show progressed, I found it increasingly difficult to view the work as there were just too many people. Between the audio tours and the people staring at their guide books, I felt like I was in a clogged pipe! Not a good feeling and frankly left a sour taste in my mouth. Less people, I am sure would have made the exhibition more enjoyable.
So, Instead of talking about the whole exhibition, I have decided to talk about two of my favorite paintings in the show, Music in Tulleries Garden by Manet and The Avenue, Sydenham, by Pissarro.
Music in Tulleries Garden, Edouard Manet,1862. ©The National Gallery, London.
A common theme for impressionists is to paint a scene of ordinary people living life, and a great example of this is Music in the Tulleries Garden, painted by Manet. This painting results in a feast for my eyes allowing them to dance around the canvas from one image to the next. I always find something new to see every time I look at it and therefore had a hard time moving on to the next painting on the wall. I so enjoy the fact the Manet painted himself into the far left of this work. I also, love following the sea of top hats from one gentleman to the next letting the hats move me in and out of the painting. The trees, the chairs and the color blue are also an interesting way to engage with the painting.
I find Manet's wet relaxed brush strokes pleasing to my eye in both the detailed moments of the woman in the vail and the vague moments such as the very center of the painting. Now let's talk about the umbrella in the painting, which seems to be the one place my eyes can rest before starting on my journey through the rest of the painting. The simply painted silly umbrella leaves me wondering if its meant to be there or not? I can't help but wonder what Manet was thinking about when he painted the umbrella. Was it really a part of the orignal scence? Was he trying to fill empty space? How perfect is the umbrella for the space? I wonder... What do you think?
The Avenue, Sydenham, Camille Pissarro 1871. ©The National Gallery, London
I am not going to say a lot about this Pissarro painting because the piece speaks for itself. The Avenue, Sydenham is a simply painted picture depicting another sense of everyday life. In the Exhibition, it was hung next to one of Monet's more simple paintings, The Thames below Westminister. The two paintings sat side by side and my eyes completely ignored the Monet painting. The vibrancy of color and the pallet itself results in a painting that sings to the point where you don't want to look at anything else. As an artist, I wanted to drink in each color as they bounced off each other, one right after the other. This painting by Pissarro was bought by Durand- Ruel and was never sold. Durand- Ruel kept it till he passed away.
Inventing Impressionism was filled with wonderful works of art. If you're in the London area check it out, but hopefully you will not encounter crowds of people.